Why do you have to be wrong?

An Egyptian colleague of mine had a recent post on Facebook saying that if the Norwegian who killed 90+ people was a Muslim, the press would have declared him a terrorist. Instead, Reuters called him an ‘assailant’ and an ‘attacker’; BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera called him a ‘gunman’.  His question: is ‘terrorist’ a term reserved for Muslims? Most religions teach charity, tolerance, and kindness toward others.  Then why do too many people in the name of religion criticize or even demonize others with different views? A 2010 poll in 24 countries found that over half – 52% – believe that religious beliefs promote intolerance and exacerbate divisions. Too often it seems that being right becomes more important than living one’s beliefs. And yet who is to say that you are right and ‘they’ are wrong? None of us can know for certain what is behind the universe and our existence. We can only believe what we have come to believe, however we have come to believe it. The reality is we can be no more sure of our beliefs than others are about theirs. I’m a Christian. The Jesus of the Bible was an early civil rights leader—associating with others whom society’s rules said he should not. Therefore, I will live out my beliefs the best I can while respecting the beliefs of others. And Anders Behring Breivik is indeed a terrorist.

“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.”  –Dalai Lama


About Kelly J. McCleary

Wife and mother of three, author, financial professional View all posts by Kelly J. McCleary

3 responses to “Why do you have to be wrong?

  • Kelly J. McCleary

    As I have done research for the book and looked for like-minded blogs, I have found it incredible that few (ok, I can find next to none) that strike a balanced, middle-ground. I am not sure what is driving the polarization in our society in politics and religion and other spheres, but I have to believe there are more of us with moderate, tolerant views than the extremists…where are our voices?


  • Barry Mongan

    You (and Karim) raise a great point and I think you already know my feelings on the people who exacerbate things (right-wing media, for example). I was also very interested in the article you linked and the number of people who believe that religious beliefs promote intolerance and divisions. It led me to wondering…the major religious conflicts seem to be among the three Abrahamic faiths who, in the end, believe in the same deity. (Very strange – you’d think they’d have more in common.) Are there lessons to be learned then from the Indian and East Asian religions in terms of tolerance, compassion, and basic human kindness?

    (Apologies if I’m going off at a tangent here. Perhaps it’s a whole other blog post!)


  • Anna

    The media has a lot to answer for. An inconsistent use of terms like ‘terrorist’ only serves to create and reinforce the terrible misconceptions and prejudices many people have. You’re right, Breivik is a terrorist and should be given the label he deserves.


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